Le Pen shrugs off markets’ ‘fatality’ over Sunday’s election

  • First round of the presidential elections on Sunday
  • Far-right Le Pen narrows gap with Macron
  • French bond risk premium rises
  • Purchasing power is the main concern of voters

PARIS, April 7 (Reuters) – French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen shrugged off market jitters sparked by strong ratings ahead of the first round of Sunday’s presidential election, saying her show ” serious” was meant to work for voters, rather than markets.

Long undeterred by what looked like an easy path to re-election for President Emmanuel Macron, markets woke up this week when Le Pen narrowed the gap in opinion polls enough that victory was within the margin of error.

Le Pen mocked what she called “catastrophic proclamations” and told RTL radio on Thursday that her program was sound and would aim to support businesses and “give money back to the French” by reducing VAT and France’s contribution. to the EU budget. .

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“The policies that I want to implement are not aimed at the stock markets, which will be a change from Emmanuel Macron,” he said. “It’s not markets that create jobs, it’s not international finance.”

Macron is still ahead in all opinion polls. But his late start to a lackluster campaign has even led some in his camp to say a win for Le Pen might be possible.

A likely high level of abstention adds uncertainty.

“There is a dynamic in favor of Marine Le Pen,” said Frederic Dabi of the Ifop pollster, adding that there is a chance she could overtake Macron to lead the first round, although she is still ahead for now.

“The second round will be very close,” he said, adding that Macron was still the most likely winner, but it would all depend on which field is better to get the votes.

RISK PREMIUM

This, in turn, has pushed up France’s borrowing costs as investors fret over a closer-than-expected race. The premium that investors demand to own French bonds rather than the euro zone’s benchmark Germany rose in recent days to the highest level since early 2020.

France saw strong investor demand at a monthly auction of long-term bonds on Thursday, but the public debt management agency had to more than double the interest rate on its benchmark 10-year bond to 1.17. % from just 0.52% the previous month.

Macron’s campaign struck back Thursday on the economic front.

“I want people to realize what France would be like with Marine Le Pen,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Franceinfo broadcaster. “There would be more inflation,” he said, and more taxes to finance his plan to nationalize toll roads.

“And there would be less sovereignty, because we would be allies of Russia, of Vladimir Putin,” he added, attacking Le Pen for her longstanding admiration for the leader, which she has toned down and nuanced since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The pro-business think tank Institut Montaigne has said Le Pen’s program, which aims to lower the retirement age to 60 and cut energy taxes, could cost 75% higher than she estimates. .

Macron himself, long focused on Ukraine, is now concentrating his campaign on purchasing power, which Le Pen has successfully targeted for months. He promised on Wednesday to increase pensions.

($1=0.9163 euros)

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Information from Tassilo Hummel, Benoit Van Overstraeten, Michaela Cabrera; Additional reporting by Sujata Rao, Leigh Thomas; Written by Ingrid Melander; Edited by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie

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